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06 June 2016

The smallest firms need protected too!

Why do we have regulations?

Well, regulation often exists to try to protect individuals from unfair, unlawful or unsafe behaviour. Such rules often place responsibilities on business and gives rights to individuals.

But what if the organisation being treated unfairly is a micro business, maybe at the hands of a much larger organisation?

For some time, FSB has argued that smaller businesses, especially micro businesses, need better protection.

Research conducted by FSB looked at the experience of businesses across the key regulated markets, including energy and telecoms, as well as looking at non-regulated sectors. We found that the consumer experience was clearly correlated to the size and maturity of the business. Susan Love presenting at the Scottish Consumer Conference

In other words, the smaller the business, the more likely you are to feel like you’ve been taken advantage of when you’re buying goods and services.

This is compounded by differences in how businesses are treated by the law in comparison to citizens. This means business owners don’t always have the same access to information (to compare products and prices) or redress (complaints and appeals) compared to individual consumers.

Thanks to FSB campaigning, decision-makers north and south of the border are taking this issue seriously.

The UK government recently carried out a consultation specifically looking at the experience of micro businesses, committing to further work in this area.  

In Scotland, the Scottish Government has just gained new powers over consumer advice and advocacy. It plans to establish a new body ‘Consumer Scotland’ to better support Scottish consumers by streamlining advice and support.

FSB has argued for Consumer Scotland to play a key role in supporting Scotland’s smaller businesses as consumers. With legislation to establish the new body expected in the early years of the new government, FSB will continue to press the case for better protection and support.

 

Susan Love is Policy Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland

Susan presented these issues at the Protecting Scottish Consumers conference on 2 June 2016

See how FSB have campaigned on this issue

Lobbying & Campaigning from FSB

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